"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Bremer Fires 28,000 Iraqi School Teachers

UPI/MenaFN -11-21-3
By Richard Sale

UPI Intelligence Correspondent

"A piece of real stupidity" - former CIA official

American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration officials have told United Press International.

A Central Command spokesman, speaking to UPI from Baghdad, acknowledged that the firings had taken place but said the figure of 28,000 "is too high."

He was unable, however, after two days, to supply UPI with a lower, revised total.

The Central Command spokesman attributed the firings to "tough, new anti-Baath Party measures" recently passed by the U.S.-created Iraqi Governing Council, dominated by Ahmed Chalabi, a favorite of administration hawks in the White House and Pentagon.

"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to try and equate the Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson. "You have to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding and running the country or you're going to turn Iraq over to those who can't."

Facing a spreading insurgency, this was "not the time to turn out into the street more recruits for the anti-U.S. insurgency," Johnson said.

"It's an incredible error," said former senior CIA official and Middle East expert Graham Fuller. "In Germany, after World War II, the de-nazification program was applied with almost surgical precision in order not to antagonize German public opinion. In the case of Iraq, ideologues don't seem to grasp the seriousness of their acts."

Administration officials told UPI that from the beginning of Bremer's arrival in Iraq, the Bush administration has consistently misplayed the issue of Iraq's former ruling Sunni group, most of whom were members of the Baath, but who are also the most able and knowledgeable administrators in the country. In addition, many able government employees joined the Baath Party not out of any special political sympathies, but simply to attain or retain their jobs.

"The anti-Baath edicts, all of which are ideological nonsense, have been an outright disaster," a State Department official said. "Whatever happened to politics as the art of the possible?"

"All we have done is to have alienated one of the most politically important portions of the Iraqi population," another administration official said.

According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials, the latest firings are only one of a series of what one State Department official called "disastrous misjudgments." He cites, as one of the first, how senior Pentagon officials, relying on Chalabi's advice, led the Bush administration to believe it would inherit the Iraqi government bureaucracy virtually intact at the end of the war.

This same group ignored warnings from the internal CIA and State Department studies about looting and general lawlessness in the event of a U.S. victory, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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Milton Frihetsson, 04:09


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